Save the Children live-birth ad escapes ban despite 614 complaints

Save The Children Fund's ad, containing images of childbirth, has escaped a ban despite receiving 613 complaints that the images were "offensive, overly graphic and unduly shocking and distressing".

Save the Children 'live birth' ad escapes ban despite 613 complaints
Save the Children 'live birth' ad escapes ban despite 613 complaints

The ad (below), created by Adam&EveDDB, used footage shot at the maternal waiting home at Peters Town Clinic in Liberia last year, and was not taken specially to make the ad.

The ad opens with a warning that it shows a real birth and may be distressing.

It shows a woman giving birth. Her baby is taken to a table, looking blue and clearly not breathing. The mother, lying on a table with her back to the camera, is crying.

The ad states "For a million babies every year, their first day is also their last." The midwife is then seen rubbing the baby, who starts crying. Text then reads, "Basic training for midwives can help end first day deaths."

The majority of the complainants said the images were "offensive, overly graphic and unduly shocking and distressing".

A number of complaints claimed the images of a dead baby were inappropriate, while others believed the ad would cause undue stress and offence to pregnant women, parents and mothers who may have lost a child themselves through miscarriage or still birth.

Save The Children said the ad was intended to communicate the "shocking and distressing statistic" that one million babies die on their first day.

The organisation said it believed the images of childbirth were not offensive in the context of a generally accepted moral, while there are already programmes on television such as 'One Born Every Minute' and 'Call the Midwife", which depict real-life childbirth. In addition, the ad contained a warning message, and the ad was shown after 9pm.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the birth scene was filmed with the mother's full consent, the film communicated the issue of death during childbirth in a manner that respected the dignity of the mother while raising awareness of the issue and the scheduling of the ad reduced the risk of distress to younger viewers.

The ASA said the presentation of the ad was unlikely to cause serious or widespread offence and did not ban it. 

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